The Herald (South Africa)

Oxfam hit by fresh sex abuse scandal


SCANDAL-HIT British charity Oxfam was reeling yesterday after fresh claims of sexual assault and rape, this time between aid workers in Sudan.

Helen Evans, former global head of safeguardi­ng, also warned of assaults on children volunteeri­ng in Oxfam’s hundreds of high-street charity shops in Britain.

She accused senior managers of failing to act, heaping pressure on chief executive Mark Goldring hours after his deputy resigned over a scandal involving aid workers’ use of prostitute­s in Haiti.

Evans told Channel 4 News of a survey conducted during her 2012-15 tenure which exposed a culture of sexual abuse in some Oxfam offices.

The survey of 120 staff across three countries found between 11% and 14% said they witnessed or experience­d sexual assault.

Four people in South Sudan witnessed or experience­d rape or attempted rape involving colleagues.

Evans said she asked to take her findings to senior leadership at Oxfam, but the meeting was cancelled and Goldring said discussing the report would not take things any further.

Later during her tenure, Evans said she received three new allegation­s in a single day in February 2015.

“There was one of a woman being coerced to have sex in a humanitari­an response by another aid worker, another case where a woman had been coerced to have sex in exchange for aid, and another one where a member of staff was struck off for sexual abuse and hadn’t disclosed that,” she said.

In a separate issue, Channel 4 cited figures showing seven incidents of inappropri­ate conduct with children in Oxfam’s shops in 2013-14.

Oxfam has been battling accusation­s it covered up a scandal involving its aid workers in Haiti.

It has denied covering up allegation­s against staff members accused of using prostitute­s in Haiti following a devastatin­g 2010 earthquake.

Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise has decried Oxfam’s handling of the prostituti­on scandal.

“There is nothing more undignifie­d and dishonest than a sexual predator who uses his position as part of the humanitari­an response to a natural disaster to exploit needy people in moments of great vulnerabil­ity,” Moise wrote on Twitter on Monday.

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